Ephemeral structures are designed to be fleeting — they last a short period of time, are often fragile, and can be assembled and disassembled as needed. Portable artifacts can be easily moved or carried because they are light and functional.
Islam was born among nomadic tribes constantly on the move that required transportable lodging in the form of tents. By the 9th century, although Islam had become an urban civilization, nomadic instincts remained alive in the subconscious. This course will examine the Persian Court (comprising palace, kiosk, and tent), the imperial tents of the Ottoman Empire, portable mosques and prayer niches, and the temporary structures raised for the celebration of circumcisions and other events. Most of these structures have survived only in painted miniatures (e.g., Shah-Nameh) and texts (e.g., The Babur Nama). We will study these ephemeral structures, as well as numerous movable artifacts (carpets, cushions, folding tables). Traveling accounts, painted manuscripts, and museum objects will illustrate these artifacts.